Start Simple: Eleven Everyday Ingredients for Countless Weeknight Meals by Lukas Volger

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Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Brothy beans

    • vickster on September 15, 2020

      Good, basic dried bean recipe. I add some sage leaves.

  • Roasted cauliflower and apple soup

  • Sweet potato with miso butter and greens

    • Apollonia on August 30, 2020

      Really lovely low-effort dish with such nice flavor.

    • patioweather on August 16, 2021

      Tasty but needs chickpeas or something.

  • Cold sweet potatoes with spiced seeds and yogurt

    • Apollonia on August 30, 2020

      Have made this several times. For what it's worth, I liked it a lot more than my diners (aka my family), but I have liked it enough to make more than twice. The contrast between the spiced seeds and cold yogurt, with the sweet, dense potato to me is absolutely delicious.

  • Honey-orange tofu

    • Apollonia on August 30, 2020

      This dish really worked for me. About as flavorful as tofu can be in such a short amount of time.

    • jenburkholder on August 01, 2020

      Meh. Pretty bland - the tofu didn’t soak up much flavor. The candied orange pieces, though, were nice, and those would be fun to incorporate into a different dish.

  • Miso-maple tofu with melted onions

    • Apollonia on October 01, 2020

      It's not dinner party food, just a tasty, easy way to serve tofu, out of basically pantry ingredients. I've made it on a few busy weeknights and will make it a few more, I'm sure. I would go ahead and use a whole onion, especially if you're shaving the onions super fine on a mandolin.

    • jenburkholder on April 19, 2021

      Onions are definitely the best part. The tofu is a bit bland, needed more salt, and in general I would up the amount of sauce. Possibly the most pantry-friendly dish ever, though, so I might well repeat it.

  • Pineapple-Sriracha tofu

    • Apollonia on June 15, 2021

      The other variations on this recipe are staples for us, but I hadn't gotten around to this one because we never have pineapple juice. I'm sorry to say it didn't make the cut for us, at least not without some big changes. The marinade just didn't have enough power to flavor the tofu and didn't reduce down enough in the oven to glaze it.

  • Red lentil and sweet potato stew

    • Astrid5555 on April 10, 2020

      I wasn‘t that big a fan on the first day because the stew was lacking in flavor until I added some ground cumin and Aleppo chilli flakes to spice it up a little. However, it quite improved the second day. Added chard and baby spinach for the greens.

    • meginyeg on December 15, 2020

      Simple and easy. I agree with Astrid though it was a bit bland. I would make again but add some spices.

  • Toast with seared scallions, asparagus coins, and egg

    • Astrid5555 on April 26, 2020

      This is a nice quick lunch idea. I streamlined the recipe in so far as to cut the scallions in small rounds, let them cook for 5 minutes and then added the asparagus coins to the same pan. Perfect with a fried egg on top!

  • Cheesy cabbage and white bean soup

    • Lepa on May 12, 2020

      I made this with leeks, freshly cooked barlotti beans and gruyere cheese. It was simple, yummy and comforting.

    • jenburkholder on August 01, 2020

      This was okay. It was cozy and satisfying enough, but I don’t think it was really more than the sum of its parts. Probably wouldn’t repeat as is.

  • Red slaw with apples, currants, and yogurt

    • Lepa on April 10, 2020

      We loved this salad! It's tangy and satisfying and reminds me of eating pickles (this is a good thing in my mind).

  • Broccoli-mac

    • Lepa on April 10, 2020

      This was a nice version of mac and cheese that includes two whole heads of broccoli. I baked it with panko and think the crumbs were essential. We needed to add some salt at the end but I thought this was easy and good.

  • Pan-fried cauliflower with olives and lemon

    • Lepa on May 21, 2020

      This is simple and satisfying, like many of the recipes I have tried from this book.

    • jenburkholder on August 01, 2020

      A nice, simple way to serve cauliflower. The flavor isn’t too strong, so it’s a good way to highlight fresh farmers’ market produce.

  • Garlic-sesame kale and avocado salad

    • Lepa on May 21, 2020

      This is a simple and good salad made with items that I always have on hand. It made a satisfying lunch for two hungry adults.

  • White bean and carrot burgers

    • Lepa on April 13, 2020

      These had a decent taste and held together well but they were a bit mushy (they need something to give them a more toothsome texture). My family ate these happily but I don't know that I'll repeat this recipe.

  • Black beans with scallion-lime vinaigrette, avocado, and spinach

    • Lepa on June 04, 2020

      This is okay. It's easy to put together and felt healthy, but was a bit bland.

  • Ribollita

    • patioweather on April 21, 2021

      I've never met a ribollita I didn't like, to be honest. The beans I used were Edison Grainery's navy beans. The only change I made in cooking the beans was to add a bit of kombu, and I salted them generously. These were some of the best plain beans I've had in my life and highly recommend them.

  • Lentil, cabbage, and feta salad with frizzled onions

    • jenburkholder on September 28, 2020

      This was a tasty salad. It needed a bit more sweetener, at least with my cabbage, but was otherwise well-balanced and interesting, with a good amount of crunch.

  • Peanut butter and greens sandwich

    • jenburkholder on August 01, 2020

      A revelatory combination. One of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas that this book is so good for. Absolutely recommend.

  • Steel-cut oats with squash and tahini

    • jenburkholder on November 19, 2020

      Nice flavour combination. Didn't really use his cooking directions - it's just oats, after all - but enjoyed the mashed squash and tahini on top. Good variation of my favorite breakfast.

  • Ghee-roasted butternut squash with spiced honey

    • jenburkholder on September 09, 2020

      Tasty, but needed acid. I drizzled balsamic vinegar on top and that made a big difference.

  • Sesame sweet potato loaf

    • jenburkholder on August 01, 2020

      A good, simple dessert that could also make a nice snack, as it isn’t too sweet. The sesame adds a pleasant bitterness that sets off the sweet potato.

  • Solo spinach salad of fried egg, kimchi, and cheddar

    • jenburkholder on August 01, 2020

      Absolutely yes. Anybody who hasn’t had kimchi with cheddar cheese before needs to try it, it’s a brilliant combination. This salad is no exception - huge bang for your buck with flavor.

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  • ISBN 10 0062883593
  • ISBN 13 9780062883599
  • Published Feb 18 2020
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 304
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Harper Wave

Publishers Text

From veteran food writer, recipe developer, and creator of the James Beard Award-winning Jarry magazine comes an innovative approach to vegetarian cooking.

What have I got to eat? It’s a question we ask every time we open up the refrigerator or pantry door. It might be eggs, some cheese, and half a loaf of bread, or a box of wilting greens, garlic, and some sweet potatoes. Though these ingredients may not seem like much to make a delicious meal, recipe developer and author Lukas Volger knows it’s all you need. In Start Simple he offers a radically new, uncomplicated, and creative approach to cooking that allows you to use what you already have on hand to make great meals you didn’t think were possible.

Magic can happen with just a few ingredients: sweet potatoes, tortillas, eggs, cabbage, hearty greens, beans, winter squash, mushrooms, tofu, summer squash, and cauliflower. Volger advises readers to stock up on these eleven building blocks instead of shopping for a single recipe. A protein (tofu, beans, eggs) is a foundation. A crunchy garnish (cabbage, greens) is a finishing touch. Once these structural components of a meal are established, home chefs can throw in their own variations and favorite flavors—mixing, matching, and adding ingredients to customize their dishes.

While Start Simple is a vegetarian cookbook—none of the recipes include meat—Volger’s approach transcends categories. His methods aren’t about subscribing to a specific dietary regimen; they are about simply recognizing and embracing the way people cook and eat today. Creating weekly meal plans based on intricate recipes sounds good, but it can be difficult to execute. Having a well-stocked pantry paired with a choose-you-own adventure guide to creating simple yet inventive meals is more practical for your average home cook.

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